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Brought to you by PunkTorah.org
Jews love starting organizations, more than anything else. And the worse the acronym, the better. Without cheating, try to figure out what any of these organizations do:
CPMAJO, JINSA, JHSGW, NJCRAC, COEJL, CAHJP, EAJC, COJECO, BACJRR…
How often do we start “organizations” with “Mission Statements” full of snappy buzzwords?
What does that even mean?
Nothing. Not a single thing.
We can form as many organizations as we want, that DOES NOT mean that anything is going to get done. It just means that a bunch of people are going to sit around in a room, talk about all the things that they want, talk about themselves, and accomplish nothing.
This is especially true with “outreach” organizations. The very word “outreach” implies that some people are already on the outside, while others are on the inside. Of course, those people within an organization are the insiders, trying to engage others.
But here’s the interesting irony: people don’t want to be friends with an organization, people want to be friends with people. Community comes from personal interaction, not signing up for a committee.
The organization should be a tool for personal interaction, not the other way around.
Would you feel comfortable telling your secrets to PepsiCo? How about Wal-Mart?
So how do we fix this?
We need to stop focusing on what we can do and look at we are doing.
What are we doing to bring Judaism to those who need it? How are we making Judaism more accessible and relevant to the 21st century? And when I say “we“, I’m not talking about the JCC or JNF or the ABCD or whatever. I’m asking all of us, personally:
What are YOU doing to live Jewishly?
No one is perfect, and no one, no matter who they are or say they are can live a perfect Jewish life. No one person can fulfill all the mitzvot. But remember, just because the road is long, it doesn’t give you an excuse to stand still. G-d only cares about how far you have walked on your own path.
So stop talking and get off your tuchus! Engage! Create something! Talk to people! Find out what they need, find out why they don’t care about being Jewish, why they can’t find Judaism meaningful to their 21st century daily lives.
Find this out and do something!
-Patrick and Michael
Like any profession, those of us who are Jewish-For-A-Living have a secret language that we use with each other. To the outsider, this language is strange and unfamiliar. And since I believe in openness, here is my own personal WikiLeaks glossary of Jewish non-profit speak. And if this article inspires you to change your non-profit, then let us know, because we’re here to help you.
Jewish Communal Professional: anyone who works for a Jewish non-profit that is specifically Jewish in nature (example: Jewish National Fund, Birthright Israel, PunkTorah). Note that this does not apply to owners of Jewish for-profit businesses, even if they give more tzedekah than the non-profits do.
“Joshua just got a job at Hazon as Director of Youth Projects. We’re so excited to have another Jewish Communal Professional in the family. Too bad he wasn’t a doctor like Gerald.”
Engagement: getting Jews in a room to do something, no matter what it is, and taking credit for it. Ideally, this activity would have some kind of Jewy-ness to it, but even that is open for debate.
“Here at the local JCC we are actively involved in engagement, which is why we host a kosher pizza party once a month in the lobby. And it only takes us three months to plan it, which is great turn around time given all the meetings we have to have.”
Community Building: also called Community Development, this involves getting people to know about what your organization does and getting them to become involved.
“XYZ Jewish Organization is committed to community building, bridging the gap between the people who care about what we’re doing, and the people who could care less.”
Doing Jewish: a term coined by college Hillel (also called Hill-Hell by people who have interned there in their youth), “doing Jewish” is similar to engagement in that it gets Jews doing something Jewish together. The difference is that engagement is more formal, while doing Jewish is more relaxed. It can also mean that you are doing something Jewish right now, and are unavailable to do something else.
“Steven can’t go to the movies tonight. He’s doing Jewish over at the Hillel House on campus. Something about Israel…I don’t remember. I think some Israeli guy is telling everyone about the Floatilla thing that happened three months ago.”
Jewish Leadership Training: no different that any other kind of leadership training, except that there’s a bunch of Jewish folks doing it. The training is usually in the form of an institute, a weekend retreat with something called “breakout sessions” and kosher food despite the fact that no one keeps kosher.
“Adam just got home from Jewish Leadership training in Teaneck. I think it will really help him as the new Director of Engagement.”
Immersion: taking someone and making them “do Jewish” for an extended period of time or with some kind of intensity. Like engagement, but on steroids and more expensive.
“This two year immersion program brings post-college Jews to neighborhoods in Israel to learn language, culture, and build relations between the US and Israel. It’s like Birthright, but for a really, really long time.”
Donor Development: fundraising from people
Strategic Development: fundraising from organizations
Long Term Financial Planning: thinking about fundraising from people and organizations
“Whether you call it donor development, strategic development or long term financial planning, we’re still trying to get people to give us their money. The older folks are the easiest ones.”
Team Building: some kind of pre-meeting activity that reminds you of summer camp or elementary school, is supposed to connect you with your spirit (see Oprah) and get people to learn more about you. Usually very childish, but we put up with it because there’s that one person who will complain if we don’t do it and make our lives really painful until the next meeting.
“Before our meeting of the Temple Sisterhood, I’d like to do a team building activity where we each go around the room and say our name, where we are from, and the name of a fruit that describes us best.”
Communications Management: the process of any large Jewish organization saying something. It usually takes several weeks and involves multiple meetings. The steps are as follows: 1) something happens (see Floatilla). 2) Jewish organization sits around for a while and talks about it. Possibly some team building taking place. 3) Multiple meetings of higher-ups who relay the message to the people lower-on-the-totem-pole. 4) PR person writes an email. It goes to the head honcho who approves it. 5) Email goes out. No one cares.
“We’re really glad that we have a new communications management specialist here at XYZ Organization. She has a masters degree from Brown and knows how to set up Microsoft Outlook. By the way, did anyone hear about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon? Crazy, huh? I just read about it in the Middle Market Jewish Times next to Sheila Rosenbloom’s kugel recipe.”
Jewish Community: three possible definitions for this. 1) The number of Jews in a city (how this is determined is still unknown). 2) The number of people in a given city that are involved with Jewish organizations (also called the Active Jewish Community). This number is usually 25% of the bigger number. 3) The number of Active Jewish Community people who go to events regularly and take on some role of prominence. This number is about 1% of the active Jewish Community.
So to recap: there are 100,000 Jews in Atlanta. 25,000 are active. 250 are really active. So how big is the community? We’re still not sure. But darn it if we’re not gonna get them active!
“He’s really active in building the Jewish community. Thirty people came to that JCC kosher pizza party. It was incredible. David Kleinbloom was there talking about Jewish immersion programs. Lots of engagement. Really great. I bet they got a lot of development out of it. But really, it’s about getting the Jewish communal professionals together to discuss communications management and community building. It’s a real exercise for the JCC, too. Good thing they all went to Jewish Leadership training.”
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